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MDTP Written Response Items

MDTP Written Response Items have been developed and field-tested by the CSU/UC Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP) with a primary objective to help improve students' ability to reason, think, and communicate effectively about mathematics.

Teachers (or teaching teams) use and analyze MDTP WRIs to promote mathematical reasoning around
foundational topics of mathematics and to learn about their students’ ability to communicate their reasoning and use problem-solving skills. WRIs range in mathematical concepts from middle school to calculus.

If you would like access to MDTP Written Response Items, please complete the Google Form in the link below and a MDTP staff member will contact you directly with access.

Written Response Order Form


To learn more about MDTP Written Response Items, please see more information below. 

There are three components for each written response item:

  1. The Problem 
  2. The Essence Statement that describes the nature of the solutions to the problem. 
  3. The Rubric elaborates our interpretation of the specific problem.

Suggested Types of Engagement

  • Introducing: Use WRIs when students are first learning the content and are exploring their strategies and developing their skills sets
  • Advancing: Use WRIs when students have spent time in the content and are advancing their knowledge and are incorporating diverse and flexible skill sets
  • Re-engaging: Use WRIs when activating students’ prior knowledge to launch a new concept/skill or when a common misconception has been identified and needs intervention
Strategies for Engagement
  • Introducing: Students solve a problem independently. Monitor students’ progress and choose a few students to present their ways of thinking. Purposely align student presentations to lead into the upcoming lesson, anticipate errors, and deliver content in response to errors. Assess learning of new content, and provide feedback using the WRI specific rubric.
  • Advancing: Students work collaboratively to solve the problem. Through discussion, justification, argument, and debate students agree on one solution and present/submit this one solution. Chart and name novel methods and class-validated methods. Assess student understanding, build on charted methods, and remedy errors or misconceptions.
  • Re-engaging: Activate prior knowledge to assess their current understanding and design lessons to meet students where they are (anticipate and prepare for potential errors). Remedy identified misconceptions by completing only one WRI section and return every few days to distribute the learning over time. Chart students’ responses and keep charts visible for continued reference. Make connections to the current learning.
Supporting Student Mastery
  • All WRIs follow a General Rubric that should be shared with students to communicate the overarching expectations for achieving mastery. Display the General Rubric before students solve a WRI and explain the students’ responses needed to obtain the highest score of 4.
  • Each WRI is supported by a specific rubric that teachers (and students) should use to assess and communicate student mastery. Suggestions for using the specific rubric include: 1) Teachers score student work, return the specific rubric with student work, read each of the rubric components to students, and then allow students time to revise responses as needed and 2) allow students to score their own work using the specific rubric and give them time to revise responses as needed.

If you would like access to MDTP Written Response Items complete the Google Form in the link below and a MDTP staff member will contact you directly with access.

Written Response Order Form


Download complete information on Effective and Appropriate Uses of the MDTP Assessment System and Recommendations for Testing and Suggested Use for assessment planning and professional training.